Cincinnati Reds – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-06-05T23:25:42Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Eugenio Suarez “100 Percent” Following January Shoulder Operation]]> 2020-06-04T15:47:05Z 2020-06-04T15:47:05Z Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez is back to 100 percent after January’s surgery to remove loose cartilage from his shoulder, president of baseball operations Dick Williams tells C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Cincinnati organization has provided steadily positive updates on Suarez throughout the rehab process, with Williams saying last month that the expectation was for Suarez and Nick Senzel to be “full-go” when play resumes. Of course, setbacks can always occur even in the final stages of rehabilitation, but it seems Suarez avoided any hiccups in working his shoulder back to full strength.

If the league and union are able to come to terms on a new start date, then, Suarez will be a fixture in the middle of an improved Reds lineup that added Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas and Nippon Professional Baseball star Shogo Akiyama to the mix in free agency this winter. A rebound from Joey Votto and/or a step forward from the highly touted Senzel would only further brighten the outlook.

As for Suarez, it’s unlikely that he’ll slug home runs at the same prodigious rate as he did in 2019, but he’s demonstrated solid power output and a keen eye at the plate over each of the past three seasons while quietly establishing himself as one of the league’s better third basemen. In an even 1900 plate appearances dating back to 2017, Suarez has slashed .271/.364/.521 with 109 home runs, 69 doubles and six triples. Among the 338 hitters with at least 500 plate appearances in that three-year span, Suarez is tied for 38th with a 128 wRC+ and tied for 25th overall in FanGraphs’ version of wins above replacement (12.3). Suarez is signed through the 2024 season, and the Reds hold a 2025 club option as well.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Teams’ Plans For Minor League Pay]]> 2020-05-29T20:35:45Z 2020-05-29T20:14:47Z 3:14pm: The Astros will also pay their minor leaguers through August, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The Red Sox will do the same, Julian McWilliams and Alex Speier of the Boston Globe write. The Reds will pay theirs through Sept. 7, the end of the scheduled minor league season, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.

2:16pm: As teams throughout the league make sweeping releases at the minor league level, neither the Twins nor the Royals plan on cutting any players, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). The Twins and Royals will also commit to paying all of their minor league player the current $400 weekly stipend through Aug. 31 — the would-be end of the minor league season — while providing full benefits. The Twins are also committing to front-office and baseball ops staff through at least the end of June, Do-Hyoung Park of tweets.

To this point, no other clubs in the league have made such a commitment. The Marlins, Padres and Mariners all agreed to pay their minor leaguers through season’s end, although none of that bunch is known to be entirely avoiding minor league releases. Seattle, in fact, reportedly cut 50 minor league players this week already. The volume of players being released around the league is jarring — the D-backs cut a reported 64 players — although it should be noted that many of the releases would’ve come at the end of Spring Training under normal circumstances anyhow.

That doesn’t detract from the gesture made by the Twins or Royals, of course. It’s a stark contrast to an organization such as the Athletics, who informed minor league players earlier this week that they’ll no longer be paid after May 31. As’s Jim Callis observes (on Twitter), the decision made by the Twins and Royals could quite likely prove beneficial in recruiting undrafted players who are selecting among teams while capped at a $20K signing bonus this summer.

Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Which 15 Players Should The Reds Protect In An Expansion Draft?]]> 2020-05-26T16:45:14Z 2020-05-27T04:00:49Z In a few weeks, we’ll be running a two-team mock expansion draft here at MLBTR – just for the fun of it!  Currently, we’re creating 15-player protected lists for each of the existing 30 teams.  You can catch up on the rules for player eligibility here.

So far, we’ve covered the CubsDiamondbacksRockiesDodgersPadresGiantsRangersMariners, Athletics, Angels, Astros, Twins, Royals, Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles.  The Reds are up next.

First, we’ll remove free agents Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Freddy Galvis, and Pedro Strop from consideration.  Nick Castellanos can opt out of his contract after the 2020 season, but for this exercise we’ll assume he doesn’t.  Joey Votto will make the protected list by virtue of his no-trade rights.  I’ll protect a total of five players out of the gate:

Joey Votto
Luis Castillo
Eugenio Suarez
Sonny Gray
Nick Senzel

That leaves 10 remaining spots for these 26 players, so you have a lot of flexibility on this one.  You can check out Reds contract info here.

Shogo Akiyama
Aristides Aquino
Tucker Barnhart
Alex Blandino
Matt Bowman
Curt Casali
Nick Castellanos
Jose De Leon
Phillip Ervin
Kyle Farmer
Amir Garrett
Raisel Iglesias
Travis Jankowski
Joel Kuhnel
Michael Lorenzen
Tyler Mahle
Wade Miley
Mike Moustakas
Cody Reed
Scott Schebler
Justin Shafer
Lucas Sims
Josh D. Smith
Robert Stephenson
Josh VanMeter
Jesse Winker

With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below (direct link here), select exactly ten players you think the Reds should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft. Click here to view the results.

Create your own user feedback survey

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Scooter Gennett On Why He Didn’t Sign Anywhere This Winter]]> 2020-05-22T19:00:02Z 2020-05-22T16:45:36Z Former Reds, Brewers and Giants second baseman Scooter Gennett remains unsigned, and the 2018 All-Star chatted with Doug Fernandes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune this week about his decision not to accept an offer over the winter. Gennett details that he did receive some offers, but they were either non-guaranteed or not to his liking from a financial standpoint. The top offer he received was a $1.5MM guarantee with incentives, but he’d been targeting a deal in the $5MM range. That offer also came from a club with an everyday second baseman, it seems, so he’d likely have been viewed as a bench piece.

Many fans will bristle at Gennett’s candid comments on free agency and compensation, particularly given the current economic crisis that has been brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gennett, though, has earned more than $19MM in his career to date and has clearly set a personal valuation both on his abilities and the level of compensation he’d require to spend another season on the road and away from his wife and family, as any player would. “You’re 220 days away from your family,” says Gennett.

The 2019 season was a tough one for Gennett, who tore a muscle in his groin during Spring Training and now acknowledges that he came back before he was ready. That was his own decision, he emphasizes, and his results clearly suffered. After hitting a combined .303/.351/.508 with 50 home runs for the Reds in 2017-18, Gennett limped to a .226/.245/.323 slash in 139 plate appearances last year. The Reds traded him to the Giants just prior to the trade deadline, receiving only cash consideration in return. San Francisco released him less than a month later.

Over the winter, Gennett reportedly drew interest from as many as six teams, with the Cubs known to be one suitor. The Cubs, however, have avoided major free agent signings over the past two offseasons and were looking for more of a low-cost pickup. Not long after being linked to Gennett, they instead signed Jason Kipnis to the same type of minor league contract to which Gennett expresses aversion in his interview with Fernandes.

Gennett is still just 30, so there’s certainly time for him to stage a comeback if he chooses to play again. He’s still working out, but he’s also frank in telling Fernandes that he is “fine with not playing.” If salary is the sticking point, it’s hard to envision his earning power on his next contract being higher than it was over the winter. A club doesn’t seem likely to top that offer once play resumes, given the revenue losses throughout the league, and sitting out for a year would surely limit him to a minor league deal if he did decide he wanted to return to the game.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Expect Suarez, Senzel To Be “Full Go”]]> 2020-05-18T16:52:05Z 2020-05-18T16:52:05Z Third baseman Eugenio Suarez and center fielder Nick Senzel, both key figures in a bolstered Reds lineup, are expected to be “full go” whenever play is able to resume, president of baseball operations Dick Williams told’s Mark Sheldon this morning. Both players were recovering from shoulder surgery.

Suarez, 28, went under the knife in late January after injuring his shoulder while swimming during an offseason workout. There was some hope that he’d be ready for Opening Day, but that was a best-case and rather aggressive scenario. He didn’t appear in a Spring Training game, although Sheldon notes that he was on the cusp of getting some DH work in Cactus League play when Spring Training was shut down.

The 24-year-old Senzel underwent a much more serious procedure last September to repair a torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder. He’d gotten into some spring games as a designated hitter as well but had yet to play in the field.

Given where both were in Spring Training, it’s not exactly a surprise that both are expected to be full strength when “spring” training relaunches — be it in mid-June under the current best-case scenario or a bit further down the road. Still, this is the first public update on the pair’s health provided by the Reds since late March, so the confirmation is of some note.

Both Suarez and Senzel will be prominent factors as the Reds look to snap a playoff drought that dates back to 2013, when they fell to the Pirates in the NL Wild Card game. Suarez took his game to a new level last year, clubbing a surprising 49 home runs — a figure that trailed only Pete Alonso for the NL lead. The slugger has five guaranteed seasons remaining (including 2020) on the seven-year, $66MM extension he inked two years ago, and the Reds control him for 2025 as well via a club option.

Senzel, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 draft, ranked among baseball’s elite prospects from the time he was drafted until last year’s rookie season. He didn’t exactly take baseball by storm, hitting .256/.315/.427 through 414 plate appearances, but between the September shoulder surgery, a March ankle injury and an elbow procedure that caused him to miss the Arizona Fall League in 2018, Senzel dealt with a number ailments that might’ve weighed down his performance.

Drafted as an infielder, Senzel has worked all over the diamond but was moved to center field last spring. He fared well there, particularly considering his inexperience, and the Reds envision him lining up there more often than not, with the likes of Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama flanking him. Of course, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently noted, if the Reds are comfortable bouncing Senzel all over the diamond in a super-utility role, that versatility and the likely implementation of the DH in the National League could leave skipper David Bell with innumerable mix-and-match opportunities on a daily basis.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Latest On The Impact Of Coronavirus Around The Game]]> 2020-05-16T15:25:02Z 2020-05-16T15:25:02Z As players and owners work on negotiating a financial accord to allow for the start of play, opinions have trickled in from all reaches of the baseball-sphere with personal stances about how best to reboot gameplay. After Blake Snell set off a bit of a firestorm with his concerns about returning to the field, many players have chimed in to support the lefty hurler. Obviously, many players are justifiably concerned about what gameplay would mean for their safety and the safety of their families. No one understands this as much as Yoan Moncada, whose 1-year-old daughter was recently hospitalized. She’s doing better now, and Moncada, despite the scare, is ready to return to play should that become a possibility, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. Van Schouwen provides a quote from Moncada, who said, “[My family is] concerned, as everybody is. But if the conditions are safe, they’re going to be good with it. But it is a concern no matter what.” Obviously, everyone has been affected in some form or fashion by this pandemic, and players face difficult personal decisions ahead before returning to play. Of course, COVID-19 has hurt not just the players and owners…

  • While most of the focus has remained on the league’s attempts to return to the playing field, the consequences of the shutdown are hitting home for many professionals in the field. The Reds, Rays, and Marlins have announced furloughs that are to begin in June, and the latest from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter) has the Angels among the teams considering the same. Officially, the Angels are still on the fence. It is nonetheless an unfortunate and troubling development for those involved. Hopefully, some of the larger market franchises will be better equipped to weather the storm for their employees.
  • Beyond the question of will-they-or-won’t-they play a 2020 season, there are ancillary questions that need answering in the event of a shortened 2020 season. Joel Sherman of the New York Post runs through a whole host of those issues that will require answers at some point. Among Sherman’s inquiries are topics ranging from a potential trade deadline to drug testing to the practical concerns of the games themselves. Baseball is in a better position than heavy-contact sports like basketball and football, but the game still cannot be played with players keeping a 6-foot distance from one another. It helps that the primary action takes place between a batter and pitcher standing 60 feet and 6 inches apart, but there is plenty of potential for in-game contact, as well as the mere fact of shuffling 26-man rosters from stadium to stadium together.
  • The Red Sox will be able to resume play at Fenway Park this season according to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. There are, of course, a number of conditions to meet before play resumes at Fenway. For instance, fans will not be allowed in attendance, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe. There will also be safety measures that the city of Boston must sign off on before play resumes. Still, it may give players a welcome sense of familiarity to be able to play in their home ballparks, even without fans in the seats. The number of teams that will be able to resume play in their home parks remains up in the air for now, though that does seem to be the goal for most teams.
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds To Begin Temporary Lay-Offs June 1]]> 2020-05-16T05:49:11Z 2020-05-16T05:49:11Z
  • The Reds will start temporarily furloughing employees – less than 25 percent of them – on June 1, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic tweets. Those individuals will continue to receive benefits while laid off, though.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Amir Garrett Hires Boras Corporation]]> 2020-05-15T23:24:28Z 2020-05-15T23:24:28Z Reds lefty Amir Garrett has hired the Boras Corporation to represent him, per Bobby Nightengale Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). That relationship is now reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

    Scott Boras needs no introduction here; he’s equal parts renowned and reviled for his less-than-shy pursuit of big free agent paydays. In this case, the client in question isn’t anywhere near the open market, but he’s soon to be due a raise.

    Garrett will be up for a contract in 2021, when he’ll reach arbitration for the first of three times. His new agency will be responsible for sorting out an agreement with the Cincinnati organization — or, instead, arguing a case before an arbitrator.

    Just how much Garrett can earn will depend upon what he’s able to show in 2020, if indeed there is a season. The 28-year-old’s overall career numbers don’t stand out due to an ugly early run as a starter, but Garrett was a productive reliever last year, when he produced 56 frames of 3.21 ERA ball.

    It’s possible to imagine the power southpaw boosting his payout with a big 2020 season, especially if he can rack up a nice tally of holds. (They play well in arbitration; saves are even better but Garrett isn’t first in line in Cincinnati.) There’s downside as well. Garrett produces a lot of swings and misses (16.2% swinging-strike rate; 12.5 K/9) but is also no stranger to the free pass (5.6 BB/9).

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[The Senzel Factor: 2020 DH Would Give Reds A Lot Of Options]]> 2020-05-14T19:59:28Z 2020-05-14T19:59:28Z With the DH likely headed to the National League, at least for 2020, we’re going to run through each of the NL teams to see how they might best handle this new need/opportunity and explore any interesting potential roster effects. We’ve already done the Dodgers and D-Backs … now on to the Reds:

    This is in some respects a dream scenario for the Cincinnati organization, which has a deep group of outfielders and spent the winter adding defensively questionable hitters. Perhaps the potential for a DH helped inform the team’s rather bold decision to give hefty four-year deals to both Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas.

    With the aid of the temporary rule change, the club can really make use of exciting youngster Nick Senzel. The versatile infielder/outfielder could get in the lineup on a regular basis while moving around the diamond, opening the door to additional opportunity for him and additional rest for some veterans. If he’s in the lineup, Castellanos or Moustakas could appear as the DH … or slide over to first base to give Joey Votto a day in the hitter-only slot.

    It certainly seems reasonable to think that Castellanos will end up occupying DH duties more than anyone else. He’s not considered much of a defender and is presently slated to line up in right field. The Reds could not only plug Senzel into that slot but can draw upon their bounty of platoon-friendly corner outfielders to maximize offensive output. Phil Ervin and Aristides Aquino are the top righty bats, with lefties Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, and Mark Payton also candidates for the mix. (Left-handed hitter Shogo Akiyama is expected to spend most of his time in center. Senzel, it’s worth noting, can also play there.)

    The Reds came into the year looking to shoehorn offensive production wherever possible. Now, they’ll not only have more chances to do so, but have far more flexibility to avoid the potential run-prevention problems that might have accompanied the strategy.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[2 Years Ago, The Mets Cut Ties With A Former Star]]> 2020-05-08T09:00:02Z 2020-05-08T05:57:01Z It seems like ancient history now, but right-hander Matt Harvey used to be considered among the majors’ elite players. A 2010 seventh overall pick of the Mets, Harvey debuted in the bigs in 2012 and truly broke out the next season with 178 1/3 innings of 2.27 ERA ball. From his first taste of MLB action until 2015, Harvey posted a 2.53 ERA with 9.46 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 over 427 frames, earned an All-Star bid and was part of a pennant-winning team. Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom were supposed to form an unstoppable trio atop the Mets’ rotation for the long haul, but it wasn’t to be, as Harvey experienced a dramatic fall from grace during his time in their uniform.


    Injuries have been an all-too-common problem for Harvey, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in October 2013 and sat out all of of the next season. Harvey made a triumphant return to win NL Comeback Player of the Year honors in 2015 – the latest season in which the Mets went to the World Series – but it wasn’t a campaign devoid of controversy for the hurler who became known as the Dark Knight. He and agent Scott Boras pushed for a limit of 180 innings for the year, but Harvey ended up exceeding that amount with ease, tossing 189 1/3 frames in the regular season and racking up another 26 2/3 in the playoffs. The workload may have been too heavy for his taste, but Harvey was actually great that October – including an eight-inning, two-run effort in a Fall Classic-deciding, Game 5 defeat to the Royals. Little did anyone know that shining moments would be so few and far between for him since then.

    Rewinding to 2016, you’d have a hard time finding many regular starters who have been worse than Harvey. He underwent thoracic outlet surgery in July of that year, and that now looks like a death knell in hindsight. Now 31 years old, Harvey’s the owner of a 5.56 ERA – the third-highest figure among all qualified starters – in his most recent 390 innings.

    Having seen enough of Harvey, the Mets – once justified in believing he was a true ace – gave up on him exactly two years ago. It was on May 8, 2018, that the Mets traded Harvey to the Reds for catcher Devin Mesoraco – another once-promising player who didn’t pan out as hoped. Harvey turned out OK as a Red, contributing 128 innings of 4.50 ERA ball en route to an $11MM guarantee with the Angels during the next period of free agency. Likewise, Mesoraco wasn’t horrible as a member of the Mets, with whom he batted .222/.306/.409 in 229 plate appearances. But neither player is even in baseball at this point.

    Mesoraco has all but retired after sitting out the 2019 campaign. Harvey could still resume his career, but it’s not looking good. The former front-end starter was so ineffective in his lone year with the Angels that they released him in July. Harvey did catch on with the Athletics on a minor league contract after that, but he didn’t crack their big league roster at all, and there have been few rumblings about him since he elected free agency at the outset of offseason. In fact, MLBTR’s archives have just two somewhat recent news items on Harvey – one on how he auditioned for the Blue Jays as a reliever during the winter and another saying the Mets aren’t interested in reuniting with him. It’s a stunning descent for a pitcher who was among the best during his Mets heyday.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[An Angels Error]]> 2020-05-06T01:10:03Z 2020-05-06T00:07:32Z The Angels inked infielder Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38MM contract after the 2017 season, but now he surely counts as one of their least effective big-money signings in recent memory. When the Angels brought Cozart in, they expected he would carry what looked like a breakout offensive season into the future. That didn’t happen. In fact, Cozart’s tenure with the Halos went so poorly that they essentially sold him and the $12MM-plus left on his contract to the Giants over the winter. The Angels had to include young shortstop Will Wilson, their first-round pick last summer, in the deal in order to get Cozart’s money off the books, and the Giants quickly released Cozart. He hasn’t found a new team since then.

    For the most part, Cozart had an unspectacular run with the Reds, who selected him in the second round of the 2007 draft. From his 2011 debut through the 2016 campaign, he was roughly a one- to two-WAR type of player who wasn’t much of a threat as a hitter. He only combined to slash .246/.289/.385 (80 wRC+) in those seasons, but exceptional glovework made him a regular. Cozart managed 43 Defensive Runs Saved and a 31.4 Ultimate Zone Rating at shortstop during that span.

    Considering his track record, the Reds would have been right to expect another low-offense, high-end defensive year out of Cozart in 2017. Instead, though, he produced a career campaign at the plate that helped make him one of the most valuable players in baseball. Owing in part to a significant increase in walks and a much higher batting average on balls in play than usual, Cozart hit .297/.385/.548 (139 wRC+) with a personal-best 24 home runs in 507 plate appearances. Between the increased offense and his above-average defense (4 DRS, 4 UZR), Cozart logged 5.0 fWAR. The timing couldn’t have been better for him, but the Reds weren’t fully convinced he was suddenly a star player. They didn’t issue Cozart a qualifying offer after his outstanding campaign, which surely made him more appealing to teams seeking infield help on the open market.

    Although Cozart was a shortstop throughout his Cincinnati stint, he ultimately wound up with the Angels as a third baseman/second baseman. He wasn’t going to steal the shortstop job from Andrelton Simmons – one of the greatest defenders the game has ever seen – but the hope was that the two would eat up every ground ball that came their way, and that Cozart’s offensive explosion would prove to be sustainable. Unfortunately, though, Cozart was just passable, not extraordinary, as a defender with the Angels. In a little over 600 combined innings between the keystone and third from 2018-19, he recorded zero DRS and 1.0 UZR. But his value truly torpedoed because of his work at the plate, where he hit a hideous .190/.261/.296 (54 wRC+) with five homers and minus-0.6 fWAR as a member of the club.

    Worsening matters, various injuries limited Cozart to a meager 96 games and 360 trips to the plate in an Angels uniform. Just last July, a left shoulder ailment forced Cozart to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. That pretty much concluded Cozart’s run with the Angels, and it helped pave the way for the signing of third baseman Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245MM contract this past offseason.

    Had Cozart actually lived up to his contract, it’s anyone’s guess whether Rendon would have turned into an Angel. Regardless, Cozart now counts as one of the most regrettable signings in franchise history, and it’s unclear whether the 34-year-old will ever play in the majors again. To Cozart’s credit, though, he can say something that most major leaguers can’t: He was a 5.0-WAR player once whose performance earned him a sizable payday.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[The Reds May Have To Replace 2 Solid Starters]]> 2020-05-05T07:55:03Z 2020-05-05T03:04:24Z If we’re lucky enough to see a 2020 Major League Baseball season, it could prove to be the year the Reds finally escape from a long-running stint toward the bottom of the National League Central. Not only did the Reds have an aggressive offseason, as MLBTR’s TC Zencka outlined, but they feature one of the game’s most promising rotations on paper. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani and free-agent pickup Wade Miley comprise a formidable starting five. The problem for the Reds is that they may never see that rotation in action if the coronavirus leads to a canceled season. Even if that group does work together this year, there’s a decent chance that neither Bauer nor DeSclafani will be part of the team beyond then.

    Bauer may be the No. 1 starter on a market that won’t have a Gerrit Cole or a Stephen Strasburg type. Granted, Bauer’s only two years removed from performing like an elite pitcher with the Indians. Last season wasn’t nearly as successful, though, as Bauer had immense difficulty keeping runs off the board after the Reds acquired him from their in-state rivals in July. Bauer has pitched to a horrid 6.39 ERA in 56 1/3 innings in their uniform so far, but the Reds are no doubt expecting a rebound in 2020. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have kept the 29-year-old strikeout artist around on a $17.5MM salary.

    DeSclafani won’t cost the Reds nearly as much this year (just under $6MM), but the 30-year-old gave the Reds better numbers than Bauer in 2019. Returning from two injury-affected seasons, DeSclafani logged a 3.89 ERA/4.43 FIP with 9.02 K/9 and 2.65 BB/9 in 166 2/3 innings. Even if there’s no season, then, he should be able to find a decent payday should he join Bauer on the open market.

    The Reds will definitely take a hit if they lose both Bauer and DeSclafani, though the good news is that Castillo, Gray and Miley should still make for a solid foundation a year from now. What would they do about the other two spots, though? Well, the Reds do have a slew of pitchers among their highest-graded prospects – has six pitchers in the team’s top 15, including No. 1-ranked Nick Lodolo – but it remains to be seen how many will be able to contribute in the near term. And perhaps someone like former top prospect Jose De Leon, whom the Reds traded for in November, could force his way into the mix. There’s also Tyler Mahle, who was a standout farmhand in his own right not that long ago, though his production was less than stellar during a 25-start season in 2019 (5.14 ERA/4.66 in 129 2/3 innings).

    If the Reds aren’t sold on their in-house options for next season, there are always the trade and free-agency routes. Notably, the Reds didn’t draft a single member of their current rotation – they either a swung a deal to land them or signed them. So, you know president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall aren’t shy about looking elsewhere, and they further proved it this past offseason by signing Miley, Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Pedro Strop to deals worth a combined $165MM-plus. Based on that level of spending, you’d think the Reds would do their best to retain Bauer and DeSclafani. If not, they could try for any number of free agents (Robbie Ray, Marcus Stroman, Mike Minor, Jose Quintana, Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are also on track to become available) and/or make a trade. It’s tough to speculate so far in advance as to who may wind up on the block, but Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco (Indians), Jon Gray (Rockies) and Chris Archer (Pirates) are a few of the starters who come to mind.

    COVID-19 is negatively affecting every team, but Cincinnati might be near the top. It has built what looks like a respectable team as a whole and a capable starting staff, but there’s a chance it won’t get to see its present roster in action. And it’s going to sting even worse if the Reds lose Bauer after giving up a well-regarded prospect in outfielder Taylor Trammell for him last summer. The Reds will likely issue Bauer a qualifying offer next winter, which would entitle them to some compensation if he departs, but that wasn’t the goal when they acquired him. Rather, the hope is that Bauer and DeSclafani will help form an easily above-average rotation in 2020 and end the club’s six-year playoff drought.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Odd Man Out In Cincinnati?]]> 2020-05-04T18:55:03Z 2020-05-04T17:24:34Z From 2016-18, Scott Schebler ranked third among Reds outfielders in games played and total innings. Acquired alongside Jose Peraza and Brandon Dixon in the three-team deal that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox, Schebler struggled in his first taste of action with the Reds early in ’16 but finished quite well upon returning from Triple-A for the final two months. In his final 213 plate appearances that year, Schebler slashed .290/.357/.461 and set himself up to serve as Cincinnati’s primary right fielder in 2017.

    Scott Schebler | Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

    Schebler, who turned 26 shortly after that strong ’15 finish, indeed logged the lion’s share of innings in right field the following season. His overall .233/.307/.484 batting line was about league-average, per park- and league-adjusted metrics like OPS+ (102) and wRC+ (98), but Schebler clubbed 30 homers and played solid defense in the outfield (+2 DRS, -1.2 UZR, +3 OAA). A year later, his .255/.337/.439 slash again checked in above average (107 OPS+, 108 wRC+).

    In 2019, however, the Reds were clearly motivated to emerge from a longstanding rebuild (of which Schebler himself was a product). Cincinnati acquired Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark over the winter, clearly seeking to fortify a roster that lost 95 games in 2018. Jesse Winker had mostly solidified left field, and top prospect Nick Senzel was knocking on the door to the Majors in center. A spring injury to Senzel led the Reds to open the year with Schebler in center field, and in 95 plate appearances, his bat cratered: .123/.253/.223. There was some poor luck on balls in play (.154), but Schebler also saw his strikeout rate climb as his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity plummeted. He was optioned to Triple-A in early May.

    Schebler went down with an oblique injury not long after being sent down and missed more than a month of action. He was placed back on the minor league injured list less than three weeks later and due to a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery. In 212 Triple-A plate appearances, he slashed just .216/.274/.325.

    And while Schebler mended on the IL in August, Aristides Aquino was called to the Majors and posted a ridiculous .320/.391/.767 slash in his first month of action. His bat flopped in September (.196/.236/.382), but Aquino firmly put himself on the map as an option in future seasons. Over the winter, the Reds signed Japanese star Shogo Akiyama and slugger Nick Castellanos. They also acquired Travis Jankowski from the Padres.

    Things appear rather bleak for Schebler in Cincinnati at this point. He’s out of minor league options and sits behind Winker, Senzel, Akiyama and Castellanos on the depth chart — perhaps Aquino, too. Phil Ervin is a younger, better defender who hit .271/.331/.466 in 260 plate appearances last season. Both he and Jankowski, whose best asset is his glove, are more logical reserve outfielders. It’s also worth remembering that setup man Michael Lorenzen is a two-way player who logged 89 innings in the outfield last year.

    Perhaps expanded rosters will make it possible for the Reds to carry Schebler. The Reds would probably like to see how he looks with a healthier shoulder. However, even if his roster spot is salvaged, at-bats would figure to be hard to come by with such a glut of outfield candidates. And as the only one of the bunch who is out of minor league options, Schebler seems to be on the shakiest ground at the moment.

    We of course don’t know when play will resume and when the transaction freeze will be lifted, but whenever it does, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if Schebler eventually lands elsewhere. Last year’s rough showing notwithstanding, he’s controllable through 2023 and was a slightly above-average hitter with passable defense in parts of four seasons from 2015-18. He ranked well above average in terms of hard-hit rate, exit velocity and barrel rate in 2017-18.

    Schebler may not be a star, but there’s still a potentially useful player in there. A rebuilding club — e.g. Tigers, Orioles, Pirates — could hope that with a change of scenery, Schebler could again be a reasonably productive player. It’s just hard to imagine that happening with such a stacked outfield mix in Cincinnati.

    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Trevor Bauer’s Free Agent Contract: Early Predictions]]> 2020-04-30T06:51:55Z 2020-04-30T06:51:06Z Trevor Bauer’s free agency this winter will be fascinating for all kinds of reasons. In today’s video, Jeff Todd and Tim Dierkes offer predictions on which team will sign Bauer, and the amount of his upcoming contract.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[The Dodgers’ Underappreciated 2018 Trade Heist]]> 2020-04-29T20:33:15Z 2020-04-29T20:17:11Z Just before the calendar flipped from 2018 to 2019, the Dodgers and Reds formally executed a deal that sent short-term veterans to Cincinnati and prospects to Los Angeles … a bit of an oddity in and of itself, given the expectations and eventual results for those two clubs in 2019. The ever-fascinating Yasiel Puig! Former star Matt Kemp, fresh off of a resurgent ’18 effort! Excellent lefty Alex Wood, probably the best present-talent player in the deal! And going in the other direction: Homer Bailey, the guy (some fans allege) the Reds chose to keep over Johnny Cueto!

    For a trade that involved some huge names, this one didn’t get a ton of hype at the time. And it faded from memory rather quickly, in no small part because the most visible players in the deal ended up in other uniforms. That’s not to say there weren’t some big moments along the way, it’s just … the most memorable one occurred minutes after Puig was traded away to the Indians, when he took part in an on-field brawl with his technically former Reds teammates.

    Looking back on the deal, you can see what the Reds were trying to accomplish and why they hoped it would work out. But it stung in retrospect, even with Puig helping the club secure the services of Trevor Bauer in that summer swap. More than a loss for the Reds, though, it stands out as a masterstroke by the Dodgers, who didn’t miss the veteran talent they parted with, re-filled their farm system, saved money, and gained payroll flexibility.

    Let’s break it all back down and see what precisely each side got and gave up …

    Dodgers Receive

    • Homer Bailey, SP: one year, $23MM + $5MM buyout
    • Josiah Gray, SP: 6+ seasons of control; not yet on 40-man roster
    • Jeter Downs, INF: 6+ seasons of control; not yet on 40-man roster

    Reds Receive

    • Matt Kemp, OF: one year, $21.5MM
    • Yasiel Puig, OF: one year, $9.7MM
    • Alex Wood, SP: one year, $9.65MM
    • Kyle Farmer, C/INF: 5 seasons of control; pre-arbitration
    • $7MM cash

    So, the Dodgers took on $28MM in salary and sent another $7MM to Cincinnati, while the Reds absorbed $40.85MM in 2019 spending obligations.

    You can see how the Reds convinced themselves to gamble some young talent here. They added less than $6MM in payroll obligations to get a trio of veterans who had long track records of success. In 2018, Puig turned in a 123 wRC+ effort while Kemp hit at a nearly identical rate (122 wRC+). Wood spun 151 2/3 innings of 3.68 ERA ball and had been even better the season prior. Farmer was a cheap and useful player to sweeten the pot. Even if the Cincinnati club didn’t break out, the front office likely felt it’d be able to recoup some value at the deadline (which, to an extent, it did).

    On the Dodgers’ side, there was an added piece of value. Competitive balance tax considerations were of no concern to the lower-spending Redlegs, but the Los Angeles organization strongly preferred to stay under the luxury line. Bailey’s contract helped make that possible, because the average annual value of his deal was much lower than the remaining cash he was actually owed. As it turns out, the Dodgers skated in just under the $206MM payroll line. In addition to moving the salaries of Puig and Wood, changing out Kemp money ($20MM CBT hit) for Bailey money ($17.5MM) made the difference.

    That critical piece of accounting work was accomplished without really taking anything from the Reds at all, leaving the Dodgers room to structure a swap that brought in serious prospect value. Both Gray and Downs were seen as solid talents at the time of the deal, but they’ve only boosted their stock since.

    After one year of added seasoning, we now know, the Dodgers secured two leaguewide top-100 prospects out of this deal. Gray rocketed through the low minors to finish the 2019 season at Double-A, where he ran up 39 1/3 innings of 2.75 ERA pitching in his age-21 campaign. He’s now a significant part of the Dodgers’ near-term rotation picture.

    Downs also took off and reached the penultimate level of the minors in his first (and, it turns out, only) season in the Los Angeles organization. The middle infielder spent most of the season pummeling High-A pitching and ended the campaign with a cumulative .276/.362/.526 slash and 24 home runs through 535 plate appearances. The Dodgers preferred to keep Downs, but he ended up being a necessary piece of the team’s bold bid to add superstar Mookie Betts. When the original deal fell apart, the club agreed to a modified pact that sent Downs to the Red Sox as the key prospect asset.

    The original Dodgers-Reds trade unquestionably delivered a hit to the Dodgers’ 2019 talent pool. Otherwise, they never would’ve been able to pull it off. But the club’s immense depth left a robust mix in both the outfield and the rotation. The Dodgers rightly anticipated they’d be just fine with losing this trio of players. Sure enough, the club led all of baseball in outfield WAR and tied for second in the rotation.

    Funny enough, this one could’ve worked out even better for the Dodgers. Baseball being the bizarre game that it is, Bailey actually ended up being the most productive player in this deal in 2019. He contributed 2.0 rWAR/2.9 fWAR … though not to the Dodgers, who cut him loose after the swap. Bailey caught on with the Royals and ended up being acquired by the Athletics, throwing well enough to earn a $7MM contract with the Twins this winter. To be fair, even had the Dodgers given it a shot, they may not have had room for Bailey on their already loaded staff.

    The others involved didn’t fare as well, last season or in free agency. Puig didn’t play quite to expectations before the mid-summer trade. He remains the best free agent that has yet to sign. Kemp was cut loose after a brutal early showing and is now on a minor-league pact with the Marlins. And Wood? He missed most of 2019 with injury, severely curtailing the Reds’ side of this deal. But he did return late in the season, just enough to show he’s back to health … and to earn a return to Los Angeles on an incentive-laden, $4MM deal that could work out quite nicely for the Dodgers if he can return to form.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.